Creditors seize ship tied to Mexican oil company probe

MEXICO CITY, March 15 Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:22pm EDT

MEXICO CITY, March 15 (Reuters) - Creditors to Oceanografia, a Mexican oil services company at the center of an alleged fraud that forced Citigroup to cut its 2013 profit, have seized a ship that was used as collateral for debt issued by the company.

Norsk Tillitsmann, the Oslo-based trustee for some of Oceanografia's bonds, is preparing to sell the ship, OSA Goliath, to recoup funds for lenders, according to a letter published on Saturday on the trustee's website.

The ship was seized on Friday in Aruban waters on Norsk Tillitsmann's request, the letter said.

A spokesman for Oceanografia, whose main business was providing services for Mexico's state oil company Pemex, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Citigroup said last month it uncovered at least $400 million in bogus loans to Oceanografia at its Mexican subsidiary, Banamex.

Oceanografia had borrowed from Banamex using expected payments from Pemex as collateral.

Mexico's government has taken control of Oceanografia and begun a criminal investigation.

The FBI and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the transactions, people familiar with the probes have said.

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